Yutu-2 view of farside surroundings.
Credit: CNSA/CLEP

China’s Chang’e-4 mission that landed in the Von Kármán crater on the Moon’s farside has determined the thickness of the regolith and revealed the fine subsurface structures and evolutionary history of the probe’s landing site.

Credit: CCTV/Inside Outer Space screen grab

Carried by the Yutu-2 rover, a penetrating radar has found a three-unit substructure at the landing site. The data supports the contention that the explored zone of the Moon had experienced multiple impact events and basalt magma eruptions.

The Yutu-2 results show that the materials detected stem from the nearby Finsen impact crater rather than the basalt erupted from the lunar mantle, which filled the bottom of the Von Kármán crater. It was also revealed that the landing area had experienced multiple impact events and basalt magma eruptions.

Yutu-2 (horizontal arrow) was about 130 meters west of the Chang’e 4 lander (vertical arrow) on June 3, 2019.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Deep interior materials

“Our results reveal that the surface materials at the Chang’e-4 landing site are unambiguously dominated by the ejecta from the Finsen crater with a minor contribution from other neighboring craters. The regolith measured by Yutu-2 is representative of the initial lunar deep interior materials, rather than the later erupted basalts,” explains a new paper published in the latest issue of the journal, Nature Astronomy.

The lead author of the paper – “Lunar regolith and substructure at Chang’E-4 landing site in South Pole–Aitken basin” — is Jinhai Zhang of the Key Laboratory of Earth and Planetary Physics, Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, China.

The South Pole-Aitken Basin on the lunar farside.
Credit: NASA/GSFC/University of Arizona

Large impact structure

Making the first-ever soft landing on the Von Kármán crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the farside of the Moon, the Chang-e-4 lunar mission landed there on January 3, 2019.

The South Pole–Aitken (SPA) basin is the oldest and largest impact structure on the Moon, and it gives particular insight on the lunar interior composition.

For access to the paper — “Lunar regolith and substructure at Chang’E-4 landing site in South Pole–Aitken basin” – go to:

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41550-020-1197-x

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